CHICAGO -- There is a small sign that hangs on the wall just before the stairs that lead to the visitors' dugout at Guaranteed Rate Field. The message is for all players, but plenty around the Indians have a hunch that it was made with Trevor Bauer in mind.No drone
CHICAGO -- There is a small sign that hangs on the wall just before the stairs that lead to the visitors' dugout at Guaranteed Rate Field. The message is for all players, but plenty around the Indians have a hunch that it was made with Trevor Bauer in mind.
No drone zone.
Bauer famously sustained a gash on his throwing hand while repairing one of his drones during the 2016 run to the World Series with the Indians. The pitcher was also scolded once a few years back for flying one at the White Sox ballpark. On Tuesday night, Bauer was only focused on building up his pitch count in a 5-4 walk-off loss in Chicago.
"I'm ready," Bauer said.
In his quest to be cleared for the Tribe's American League Division Series rotation, Bauer logged 60 pitches over four solid innings against the Sox. The right-hander -- coming back from a six-week absence due to a stress fracture in his right fibula -- then moved out to the bullpen to add more pitches to his total.
Bauer, who sustained the injury on Aug. 11 in Chicago on a comebacker from Jose Abreu, was making his second start since being activated from the disabled list. This 60-pitch performance followed a 34-pitch outing against the Red Sox on Friday. The next step for the pitcher is still being sorted out by the American League Central champions.
"We're still trying to sort it out," Indians pitching coach Carl Willis said. "We're going to sit down [Wednesday] and probably include Trevor in the conversation and come up with the best solution."
As things currently stand, ace Corey Kluber projects to be the Game 1 starter for the ALDS, which begins on Oct. 5 on the road against either the Astros or A's. Carrasco is in line to start Game 2, with Mike Clevinger and Bauer rounding out the rotation. If Bauer is cleared to start, rookie Shane Bieber would likely shift to the bullpen.
Bauer's next scheduled day to pitch, and build up to around 85 pitches, falls on Sunday. The issue with that is Sunday is also the scheduled start day for Carlos Carrasco, who accommodated the need to get Bauer innings against the White Sox by coming out of the bullpen in Tuesday's loss.
Carrasco is listed as the probable starter for Sunday's regular-season finale against the Royals, but Willis said there is a strong chance that Bauer appears in that game, too. Manager Terry Francona said he and Willis will discuss the situation with president of baseball operations Chris Antonetti and general manager Mike Chernoff on Wednesday.
"We certainly want him to pitch, but we also need to get Carrasco ready," Francona said. "So, we're going to have to figure that out."
In his four innings of work, Bauer allowed five hits, including a two-run home run to Avisail Garcia in the first inning. Overall, the righty generated 14 swinging strikes, averaged 93.3 mph with his four-seam fastball and topped out at 96.3 mph. Bauer threw 17 four-seamers and 17 curveballs, mixing in 12 sliders, eight changeups, five cutters and one two-seamer.
"I was really encouraged," Bauer said. "Commanded the ball pretty darn well. That was one of the points of emphasis, see how many 0-2, 1-2 counts I could get myself into. Get ahead. I threw all my pitches for strikes, all where I wanted to, with the exception of I missed a couple in the zone. Like the slider that Avi hit out. But, overall, I was super encouraged by it."
On the season, Bauer now has a 2.26 ERA with 219 strikeouts against 57 walks in 171 1/3 innings (27 starts).
Following Bauer's exit, Carrasco worked 4 1/3 innings of relief, piling up eight strikeouts along the way. The big right-hander cruised through his first four innings, but ran into trouble in a three-run ninth. Carrasco walked one and gave up three hits in the final frame, which ended with Daniel Palka delivering a two-run single to set off an on-field party for the White Sox.
"I thought Carlos threw the ball really well," Willis said. "It's not commonplace for him to, at the beginning of the game, know that he's coming in in the fifth. He could have been sitting out in the bullpen not knowing when he's coming in the game. There may have been a little bit different type of adrenaline.
"That could have had some effect. But, I thought he threw the ball really good. Tip your cap to the White Sox. They put together something in the ninth inning."
MOMENTS THAT MATTERED
J-Ram ignites rally: Entering Tuesday night, Jose Ramirez was batting .165 (18-for-109) with a .577 OPS in his past 30 games for the Tribe. That stretch dated back to Aug. 19, which was the last time Ramirez's average was at least .300 on the year. In the third inning against the White Sox, Ramirez pulled a 1-1 curveball from starter James Shields into right for an RBI single that sparked a three-run push for the Indians. Ramirez came around to score on a two-run single by Yonder Alonso.
"I'm sure that'll make him feel better," Francona said of Ramirez's RBI single.
Yan gone: Gomes extended Cleveland's lead to 4-2 in the fourth by yanking a 1-2 cutter from Shields down the left-field line for a leadoff homer. Dating back to Aug. 1, the Indians catcher has hit .331/.359/.529 with five home runs, nine doubles, 14 RBIs and 14 runs scored in 121 at-bats over 33 games.
"He's been really good," Francona said. "He's been dangerous and he's been consistent. He's stayed away from the ups and downs he's had maybe in the last couple years."
BRANTLEY EXITS EARLY
Indians left fielder Michael Brantley fouled a pitch off his right calf during Tuesday's game and was lifted in the sixth inning as a precaution. Greg Allen took over in left field and Brandon Guyer assumed Brantley's place in the lineup's second slot. The Indians announced that Brantley sustained a right calf contusion.
"He fouled that ball off his calf and he was just getting a little stiff," Francona said. "He's fine."
Brantley went 1-for-2 with a double before exiting, increasing his career batting average in September to .325 (205-for-630). That is the highest mark among active Major League hitters with at least 300 career plate appearances in September.
Rookie Bieber (10-5, 4.80 ERA) is slated to take the mound for the Tribe on Wednesday, when the Indians conclude their season series with the White Sox with an 8:10 p.m. ET clash at Guaranteed Rate Field. It will mark the last start of the year for Bieber, who may shift to a relief role for the American League Division Series. Jace Fry (2-2, 4.32) will open a planned bullpen game for Chicago.
Jordan Bastian has covered the Indians for MLB.com since 2011, and previously covered the Blue Jays from 2006-10. Read his blog, Major League Bastian, follow him on Twitter @MLBastian and Facebook.